May 4, 2017

Designing luxury rental communities that appeal to both Boomers and Millennials

Millennials looking for their first home and Baby Boomers/Empty Nesters looking to downsize have more in common on their checklist than you might think.

Builder Online reports, “As cultural, economic, and geographic factors push entry-level buyers and Empty Nesters to seek out similar homes and neighborhoods, they’re often competing for the same properties. Younger (and younger-at-heart) Baby Boomers don’t want to live in age-restricted communities—or anything with ‘age,’ ‘adult,’ ‘retirement,’ or ‘mature’ in the name. They want to live side by side with their kids, the Millennials, in physically and socially active neighborhoods.”

In its State of the Nation’s Housing 2016 report, Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies found that more than a third, about 36 percent, of U.S. households lived in rentals last year. And, of those, there is a “sizable and growing number of high-income households (choosing) to rent for the flexibility and convenience it provides.” According to the report, top-income households—those who could afford to buy, but choose to rent—have been the fastest-growing segment over the past three years, and that reality has created a growing demand for luxury apartments.

With these facts in mind, the challenge to developers is to design luxury rental communities attractive to both the Boomer/Empty Nester and Millennial populations. A few rules to follow:

Rule 1 • Location, location, location: Migration to new towns is driven by people following jobs and tracking the cost of living—and everyone is looking for a high quality of life. Urban, suburban or quasi-urban locations close to job centers and amenities (trailways, restaurants, shops, cultural events) score high points with both groups. Less time spent commuting means more time for family and recreation—and that’s important to Millennials and Boomers alike.

Rule 2 • All real estate is local: It all comes down to who is your target tenant and why do they want to live there? What’s right for South Carolina is not necessarily the best fit for Ohio or Texas. All real estate is local, and it is vital to have a strong, insightful local design and marketing team on the ground assessing the target audience. There is a bit of an art to housing, and you must bring in local knowledge to understand those nuances and help craft a successful vision.

Rule 3 • Build quality: They may be rental, but luxury communities are not temporary housing, and developers must create the high-end environment in which Millennials and Boomers want to live. Amenities are more resort style than ever before (automated package lockers, saltwater pools, cabanas, grilling stations, fire pits, dog salons, virtual fitness centers). Importantly, there must be gathering places—where tenants pick up their mail, where the club and other amenities are located. By design, find opportunities for people to create a social experience.

Rule 4 • “Future proof”: Luxury properties attract high-end tenants who expect “top shelf” features. And these amenities must be designed with the future in mind, ready to tap into the “latest and greatest” as soon as it hits the market—gigabit fiber Internet, automated security and other technologies not the least among them.

Dave Liette, President of Residential Development for Miller-Valentine Group agrees, “Knowing the kind of things both Boomers and Millennials prefer, and expect, is critical. Our new luxury rental communities currently under construction like Beckett Farms in Fort Mill, S.C.; WaterStone at Hamburg Place in Lexington, Ky.; WaterStone at Carriage Trails in Huber Heights, Ohio; and Waterford at Sugarcreek in Sugarcreek Township, Ohio are amenity-rich and designed to appeal to Boomers and Millennials in search of upscale rentals to call home.”

For more information, contact Charles Rulick at 877.684.7687.